Six EAG Ambassadors at the last AGU Fall Meeting

Feb 20, 2017 No Comments by 2987 views

The 2016 AGU Fall Meeting took place in San Francisco’s Moscone Center from 12th to 16th December 2016. More than 28,000 scientists from around the world came together this year, and more than 20,000 oral and poster presentations were held. Among the attendees were six of EAG’s Early Career Science Ambassadors, who tell us about their experiences at the conference.

View across SFO bay (Photo by Alexandra)

Overall impressions of AGU and the benefits of attending

Plenty of opportunities for networking (Photo by Nang)

It was an extraordinary experience—all the networking, all the discussions, all the nerdy jokes, meeting all the celebrity scientists (those you already feel so familiar with from the papers you’ve read). It was overwhelming and exciting, with new ideas flowing from all directions and from so many scientists and engineers, old and young. This really is science without borders.


The size and diversity of topics at the AGU fall meeting is perhaps one of its greatest strengths in my opinion, as it allows you to take in a wide range of content and to explore interdisciplinary connections in a way that isn’t possible at a small meeting.


The conference itself is a great opportunity to meet collaborators from all over the world, which is difficult otherwise. I used this chance to discuss current manuscripts and ongoing proposals with colleagues from the United States and Japan. Throughout the conference, I attended 27 talks and visited 81 posters related to my field. I learned a lot from listening to the top scientists in my field and through discussing my current projects with them. Right now, I’m improving two of my manuscripts using the feedback and new knowledge that I gained at the conference.


Inside AGU (Photo by Dagmar)

The AGU Fall Meeting is one of the most eclectic scientific meetings in the field of planetary sciences. All planetary science relies on interdisciplinarity and my work is no exception. I use first principles molecular dynamics to study aqueous fluids under extreme conditions and the AGU Fall Meeting offered a perfect opportunity for me to bridge theory with observations.
While presenting my work, I received invaluable input that has led to new research ideas and possible future collaborations. After numerous discussions with colleagues from across different geochemical fields, I feel that the horizons of my work have expanded. Participating at this event gave me an opportunity to better understand present and future research interests in aqueous geochemistry. The overall experience of attending this meeting has improved my research and widened my plans for future projects.



Presentations, posters and short-courses: the ambassadors’ personal experiences

On the Tuesday afternoon, I gave an oral presentation entitled “Spatiotemporal patterns of plant water isotope values from a continental-scale sample network in Europe as a tool to improve hydroclimate proxies”, based on some of the work I’ve been doing for my postdoc in Ansgar Kahmen’s lab group at the University of Basel, Switzerland. I had many conversations with colleagues about the project as a result of them seeing me speak on this topic. I greatly appreciated this opportunity to meet new researchers in my field, and to reconnect with many of my American colleagues. Several of the other presentations and posters in the session that I participated in were among the most engaging that I saw at the conference as a whole, but I also benefited from sessions related to other work that I have done or been involved with in the past, such as the session on hydroclimate records from the tropics.

—Daniel (session PP24B: “Water Isotope Systematics — Improving Modern and Paleoclimate Interpretations III”)

Overlooking a poster session (Photo by Dagmar)

My poster presentation, “Modelling impacts of second generation bioenergy production on Ecosystems Services in Europe”, took place on Friday morning and it was really exciting to pick my poster up at the print shop and mount it in a hall where at least 5000 other posters were presented at the same time. I had applied for the OSPA (Outstanding Student Presentation Award) before, which meant that anyone interested in my poster during the day could have been a potential judge. I talked with many people during the session and I got the positive feedback that my project topic is both very interesting and important.

—Dagmar (session GC51C: “Renewable Energy: Wind, Solar, Marine, and Open Topics”)

Sat back in the undergraduate comfort zone of a lecture theatre it was great to be surrounded by the people who share my enthusiasm for – but also my frustrations with – the world of isotopes. I was engaging with the people who quite literally wrote the book (Reviews in Mineralogy & Geochemistry Vol. 82) and I was clasping it in my hand. With new friends and conversations started that would sporadically continue throughout AGU, the short course turned out to be the perfect way to start. I was prepared.
Or so I thought. Monday of AGU beat me. Thoroughly. I spent the entire day (save for an excellent young geochemist mixer event at lunch time) pacing the poster hall. Overwhelming in scale, like the whole of AGU, it turned out to be logically organised and easy to navigate. Thoroughly embedded in the Molybdenum isotope sphere, hours were spent engaging with the posters, the authors, and the other scientists come to share and to learn. And the great thing was that those scientists came in every format – the names you have read on papers too numerous to count to the ones, just like me, finding their space and their voice. I was amazed at how easy it was to make new contacts, and to casually bump into friendly, familiar faces from years – and days – ago.

—Becca (Short course: “Non-traditional Stable Isotopes”)


Tips and advice for first-time AGU attendees, from Dagmar…

• Be prepared: The AGU meeting is really huge; large flocks of hundreds of people are constantly running around and it can be really overwhelming. Be prepared to run around a lot searching for something, starting with the registration on the first day. There is a reason why every “freshling” has “first time attendee” written on their badge!

Old and new, urban and green, at the Yerba Buena Gardens (Photo by Dagmar)

• Lunch: Don’t even try to find a place for lunch within a four-block radius of Moscone unless you are prepared to leave your talk early; or, if you enjoy waiting in lines of twenty or more when you go to get your food, maybe you should, and take the chance to talk with your fellow waiting scientists.
• Getting organised: There is an app available to make life and finding presentations easier but I preferred the daily newspaper, which I could scribble around on.
…and from Becca
• Shoes: I thought my trusty converse were the most comfortable things in the world but at the close of play on Monday I craved the arch support my parents like to bring up on visits home. (And if that doesn’t work, I would seriously consider a lunchtime stretching session).
• Drugs: Winter, flights, and the mass migration of global geoscientists can leave those susceptible to the common cold feeling pretty sorry for themselves. If, like me, medication is your chosen thing then bring a supply (and know the location of the closest conference pharmacy).
• Mixers: Go to the social events organised for you. They are full of great, interesting people (and often have the bonus of good food). Step outside your group and talk with as many people as possible.


About the authors:

EAG’s Ambassadors at 2016 AGU Fall Meeting
From left to right: Alexandra Seclaman (Ludwig Maximilian Universit), Dagmar Henner (University of Aberdeen), Jakub Ciazela (Leibniz Universität Hannover), Becca Neely (University of Iceland),
Nang Htay Yin (IRAP-OMP, Toulouse) and Daniel Nelson (University of Basel)

Invited contributions

About the author

Invited contributions to the EAG blog. See biography of the author of this post just above...
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